Replacing outlet; 3 pairs of wires in box, 2 are hot

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  #41  
Old 08-04-12, 06:22 AM
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The house was built in the late 60's/early 70's, and as far as I know it's the original outlets that I'm replacing

I didn't see this mentioned anywhere, but was wondering. Am I correct to assume the OP has copper branch circuit wiring and not aluminum branch circuit wiring?
 
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  #42  
Old 08-04-12, 07:36 AM
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Good question! That would explain
I'm pretty sure it's 12-2 wire. For that reason, I was expecting to find a 20amp circuit when I went downstairs to check, but it says 15.
 
  #43  
Old 08-04-12, 09:48 AM
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It's copper wiring.

Is there any reason why I shouldn't join all the blacks/whites/grounds together inside the wall cavity, as opposed to inside the box? That'd give me marginally more room to work in when attaching the wire nuts (a big deal for the grounds, because they were cut about 12 inches shorter than the blacks and whites for some odd reason and are really hard to access), and also allow me to only run one set of wires inside the box instead of 3.
 
  #44  
Old 08-04-12, 10:04 AM
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Is there any reason why I shouldn't join all the blacks/whites/grounds together inside the wall cavity, as opposed to inside the box?
Yes. All splices must be made inside a closed box.
 
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Old 08-04-12, 10:07 AM
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I was afraid of that. I have no idea how I'm going to get the grounds joined together inside the box. Back upstairs to figure it out.

What's the reason behind this rule? Is it less of a fire hazard if they're inside the box?
 
  #46  
Old 08-04-12, 10:26 AM
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Ok, I got the box in and the wires all inside the box. I really don't know what to do with the grounds though. They only extend inside the box by an inch or two, which isn't enough for me to grab hold of them to attach a wire nut. In the old box they were attached 2 at a time with small wire nuts way back in the box and I had to use needle-nose pliers to remove them. I'm going to need a bigger nut for 4 wires and I don't believe there's enough wire inside the box to go inside a bigger wire nut, even if I could somehow do it with needle-nose pliers. Any suggestions?
 
  #47  
Old 08-04-12, 12:11 PM
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One solution is to use a wire nut with an attached pigtail to lengthen the wires.


Another way is Polaris connectors instead of wire nuts. Polaris Blocks Black
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  #48  
Old 08-04-12, 03:48 PM
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Mission accomplished - finally. I got two of the three grounds pulled inside the box a little more. The third one was in as far as it would go, though. I was able to get a small wire nut on that one (plus a pigtail wire) using needle-nose pliers. Then I joined the other two plus a pigtail together in another wire nut. I cut the blacks and whites shorter, as there was a lot more length than was necessary inside the box. It took me a bunch of tries with the wire nuts to get the blacks and whites together. I'd get the connector on, but then one of the wires would pull free when I tested them. Got everything hooked back up, turned the power back on and tested it with the plugin tester and it said everything was correct.

Sometime today while wrestling with the box/wires I knocked more of the drywall off one side of the hole, so I had to buy one of the larger outlet plates to cover it up.

Thank you for all of your help!
 
  #49  
Old 08-04-12, 04:05 PM
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Excellent! Glad you got it. Thanks for letting us know how it worked out.
 
  #50  
Old 08-04-12, 06:03 PM
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The electric code requires any gap greater than 1/8" to be patched. Over-sized plates are not a real solution.
 
  #51  
Old 08-05-12, 07:57 PM
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Glad you got it, and thank you for letting us know. Just some miscellaneous points -

What's the reason behind this rule?
[that] All splices must be made inside a closed box.
Is it less of a fire hazard if they're inside the box?
Yes.

I cut the blacks and whites shorter, as there was a lot more length than was necessary inside the box.
The standard length for individual conductors in side a box is 2x the longest dimension of the box. This usually works out to 7 or 8 inches of unstripped wire for each conductor.

It took me a bunch of tries with the wire nuts to get the blacks and whites together. I'd get the connector on, but then one of the wires would pull free when I tested them.
It is a common misconception that wires are joined, or spliced, by holding them together with the cut ends even and screwing a wire nut onto the set. That's not actually how it;s done, and I wish we'd explained this earlier.

To splice a set of wires, the wires need to be held together with the ends of the insulation on each wire even, Then a pair of flat-nosed pliers is used to twist the bare conductors together. The twists are made clockwise, and there must be at least three twists made. The tips of the bare conductors are then trimmed even - possibly into a slightly pointed shape - and a wire nut is twisted on to protect and insulate the splice.

As I read your description of what you did, I suspect that having this explanation earlier might have made your work easier.
 
  #52  
Old 08-06-12, 05:45 PM
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It is a common misconception that wires are joined, or spliced, by holding them together with the cut ends even and screwing a wire nut onto the set. That's not actually how it;s done, and I wish we'd explained this earlier.

To splice a set of wires, the wires need to be held together with the ends of the insulation on each wire even, Then a pair of flat-nosed pliers is used to twist the bare conductors together. The twists are made clockwise, and there must be at least three twists made. The tips of the bare conductors are then trimmed even - possibly into a slightly pointed shape - and a wire nut is twisted on to protect and insulate the splice.
I'll not dispute your description of the best way to splice solid conductors, but many different brands of twist on connectors have package instructions that specifically say not to pre-twist the wires. Obviously, stranded conductors cannot be pre-twisted.
 
  #53  
Old 08-06-12, 08:49 PM
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I have never seen any wire nuts that said not to pre-twist, but have seen many that said no pre-twisting required.
 
  #54  
Old 08-06-12, 10:30 PM
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many different brands of twist on connectors have package instructions that specifically say not to pre-twist the wires.
Or did they say "no pre-twisting required?" Regardless of what they say, I always make solid-wire splices exactly the way I described, and so does everyone on my crew." We do not fail inspections for something as silly as an inadequately made splice.

Obviously, stranded conductors cannot be pre-twisted.
Sure they can. I've done it many a time, and I'll bet you have too. Here's what I do with them now:

I start by untwisting the stranded conductor to form a brush. Then I lay that brush along a single solid conductor, or wrap it onto a twisted solid-conductor splice, or stick it through the brush of any other stranded conductor and twist them together. Nice, solid, tug-proof splices.
 
  #55  
Old 08-07-12, 06:08 PM
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I have never seen any wire nuts that said not to pre-twist, but have seen many that said no pre-twisting required.
Now that you mention it, I better do some checking and see exactly what the wording is.
 
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